It has been more than a month since Adam Lanza marched into Sandy Hook Elementary School and massacred 20 children and six adult staff members before taking his own life. Since that day, a massive debate over guns has gripped the country. President Obama has announced new measures to reduce gun violence. A Connecticut school was just named for one of the fallen teachers. And the Sandy Hook students are back in class.
Yet we still know next to nothing about the guy who caused it all.
Lanza’s former classmates and friends of his mother — whom he killed in her bed before embarking on the school massacre — have offered tantalizing clues. Lanza might have had Asperger syndrome, which is on the autism spectrum. He excelled at computers, putting them together and taking them apart. He played video games in his basement. He read a lot.
I was one of many reporters who descended on Newtown, Conn., after the tragedy. For several days, journalists tripped over one another at local video game stores, computer repair shops, a comic book store — just about any place where Lanza might have, perhaps should have, been known. But nobody knew him. Nobody had even seen him. Lanza was just a picture on the news. Even in life, he had been a ghost.
The only person who recalled dealing with him was the town hairstylist, who had trimmed Lanza’s hair. Think about that: Except for using the bathroom and eating his meals, getting a haircut was just about the only thing Lanza couldn’t do online. All the things he apparently enjoyed were accessible to him without leaving his room. He could find community among gamers. He could order computer parts. He could buy books without ever visiting a bookstore. That he smashed his hard drive before the shooting spree was telling — a digital suicide preceding his physical one.